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Child Exploitation

Northern California man sentenced to more than 10 years on child pornography charges

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A Roseville, Calif., man was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years and three months in prison on charges stemming from a child pornography investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Thomas Lee Neal, 42, pleaded guilty in March to receipt and possession of child pornography. In addition to 123 months incarceration, U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez ordered that Neal be placed under supervised release for 10 years upon completion of his prison term.

ICE HSI received substantial assistance on the case from the German Federal Police, Child Pornography Unit. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Laurel White.

"While there is no way to undo the despicable crimes committed against innocent children, it is a relief that the defendant is no longer in a position to carry out his criminal acts," said Daniel Lane, assistant special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Sacramento. "We will continue to dedicate our resources to track down child predators wherever they are and bring them to justice."

According to court documents, in May 2009, German law enforcement identified Neal as an individual who had uploaded to a file-sharing website a child pornography video in Roseville, Calif. When U.S. federal agents executed a search warrant at Neal's Roseville residence, they seized computers that contained images of child pornography.

In sentencing Neal, Judge Mendez said that the seriousness of the defendant's conduct, his failure to seek treatment for his attraction to child pornography, and his failure to abide by the conditions of his pretrial release supported the lengthy sentence.

The case was brought as part of ICE's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and the Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood, which marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children using the Internet.

As part of Operation Predator, ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

Through Project Safe Childhood (PSC), the Department of Justice is seeking to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For additional information on the PSC initiative, go to www.projectsafechildhood.gov or call the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California and ask to speak with the PSC coordinator.